Troubled Waters: Archaeologists Race to Save
Ancient Trading Post,
Özgen Acar, Archaeology
Archeologists from around the globe are working tirelessly to save
some of the best-preserved ancient Roman mosaics and frescoes
before water from neighboring rivers floods the area. Reporting in
Özgen Acar explains that during
a 1986 energy crisis, the Turkish State Water Department opted to
boost hydro power by damming parts of the Tigris and Euphrates.
Once completed, the dams would submerge 245 areas of historical
importance. One of the dams was completed in March, and will create
a 21.6 square-mile lake partially covering the ancient trading post
of Zeugma, sacrificing some of the Roman villas buried ten feet
underground. Pleas from archaeologists and local officials in the
region of Gaziantep that the Turkish government halt the project
until the sites can be excavated and the artifacts preserved have
fallen on deaf ears. So the race is on. Acar writes: 'Muammer
Güler, the governor of Gaziantep, renewed the call to save Zeugma
in 1998, channeling funds intended for the building of schools and
hospitals to the rescue excavations. 'We can build schools and
hospitals next year,' he explained, 'but we can't save Zeugma.''
-- Sara V.